So I’m making a game about depression…

I’m making a short game about being depressed with Patrick Lindsey. The mechanics of it are that you have to attempt to balance your depression/motivation levels, and more options get greyed out the lower you get. I’ve noticed some things while working on this that I find has been interesting or challenging.

1: Two depressed people working on a game about depression can be… well, depressing. When I give him a draft of an encounter to look over, I can tell how well I’m doing by how many sad noises, sighs, and hair pulls come out of him. When I’m editing his entries, a similar feeling of “oh fuck” and remembering specific nights where I had to deal with the encounters we’re writing is uncomfortable. It’s a hard project to work on for sure, but it’s actually therapeutic at the same time. When I get depressed or discouraged working on my main game, I tend to switch over to this for a while and channel that feeling. When I am helping Patrick deal with his own depression, I tend to want to go write to get some of the feelings from that out. The day after I have a time where I’ve hit a really low point and Patrick’s been on the other side, talking me through it, being able to write about it helps make it feel like some good might come out of it. Which means, holy shit, this game is incredibly personal for the two of us AND for our relationship. I am not sure how I am gonna feel when I release it in to the wild. This is his first game, so I’m hoping it’s easy on him too.

2: So far, the game makes other people feel very uncomfortable but like someone understands them all at the same time. This is the number 1 feedback we’ve gotten so far from sending out early builds. I’m going to throw on a trigger warning in the opening and try to make our intentions clear. I’m not sure how much of it is because people aren’t expecting a game to not try to be “fun” or if I’m actually on the mark with regards to my writing, but I think it means I’m on the right track. I’m also really worried that people will assume that we are trying to say that depression works the same for everyone, or trying to do anything other than just express our own personal experiences with it. I really want it to be relatable, since the two “points” of the game outside of expressing ourselves are to help non-depressed people have a peek at what it’s like and to help depressed people know they’re not alone and kind of reach out/commiserate. Even though it’s a short game, I still want to make sure we don’t accidentally harm anyone or say anything harmful in the process, and it’s difficult subject matter.

In any case, the game should be coming out soon assuming I can somehow find money to replace my dying laptop, or finish it before it’s last sputtering breath. People keep saying to do a fundraiser since replacing it would cost almost what I make in a month (I’ve taken a shitty part time job to pay the bills while I focus on game development but spent my savings on moving here and recent medical bills), but I’d feel weird begging for money from relative strangers and my art isn’t good enough to do commissions yet. We’ll see what happens, I suppose. Worst case scenario I can see if I can fit Twine and paint tool sai on a USB drive and try to finish it in the library.

Thanks for reading my buttload of words, and we’ll have something to show y’all pretty soon.